US Health and Retirement Study Analysis Methodology | ET REALITY


The Times/KFF Health News data analysis was based on the Health and Retirement Study, a nationally representative longitudinal survey of approximately 20,000 people ages 50 and older. The analysis defined people aged 65 or older as likely to need long-term care if they were diagnosed with dementia or if they reported having difficulties with two or more of six activities of daily living. The six activities are bathing, dressing, eating, getting in and out of bed, crossing a room, and using the bathroom. He Langa-Weir classification of cognitive function, a related data set, was used to identify respondents with dementia. The long-term care assistance need analysis definition is conservative and in line with the criteria most long-term care insurers use to determine whether they will pay for services.

Individuals were described as receiving long-term care assistance if they reported receiving assistance in the month prior to the survey interview or if they lived in a nursing home. The analysis was developed in consultation with Norma Coeassociate professor of medical ethics and health policy at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

The financial toll on middle-class and high-income people who need long-term care was examined by reviewing data the HRS collected between 2000 and 2021 on wealthy Americans, those whose net worth at age 65 was in the 50th to 95th percentile, for a total of between $171,365 and $1,827,765 in inflation-adjusted 2020 dollars. This group excludes the super rich. Each individual’s wealth at age 65 was compared to her wealth just before she died to calculate the percentage of wealthy people who depleted their financial resources and the likelihood of that occurring among different groups.

To estimate how many people were likely to need long-term care, how many people who needed long-term care services received them, and who provided care for the people who received help, we looked at people age 65 and older at all wealth levels in the community. 2020-21 survey, the most recent.

The U.S. Health and Retirement Study is conducted by the University of Michigan and funded by the National Institute on Aging and the Social Security Administration.

The analysis was conducted by Albert Sun, graphics editor at The Times, and Holly K. Hacker, data editor at KFF Health News, part of the organization formerly known as the Kaiser Family Foundation.

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